How do you make talent shine in a world of distributed work?


I caught up for a beer with old friend Tom Stewart, currently Chief Marketing and Knowledge Officer at Booz & Co, when he was in Sydney recently. We chatted about interesting topics such as business cycles, talent, and where media is going.

Afterwards Tom wrote a great article titled Why There’s No Such Thing as a Talent War reflecting on some of our conversation and his other meetings in Australia, where attracting and retaining talent is top of mind for many corporate executives.

I had told Tom my thoughts on the global talent economy: in a world in which knowledge workers can work anywhere, the most talented can pick and choose choose who they work for – on projects or sometimes in long-term employment.

Critically, the work choices the most talented make are rarely about money, but more often about how interesting the projects are, who they will work with, and how enjoyable it is working with their client.

Read more

Future Minds: the map of how screen culture is changing how we think


My colleague Richard Watson, building on the success of his book Future Files, has now launched Future Minds, which explores how screen culture is changing the way we think today, and how it will shape our future.

When I read the Contents and Overture to Future Minds, my first thought was that Richard and I should organize a public debate. In contrast to Richard’s tone of caution I think there are immense opportunities in having our brains shaped by digital culture (though certainly also things to be wary of).

Here is the map that Richard has created to acccompany the book. I saw early drafts of this as long as a year ago, so this has definitely not been cribbed from other recent maps with a similar look and feel.


Click on map to view as full-size pdf

Read more

Twitter network analysis of events – what’s possible?


I recently connected with Daniel Knox (@djkn0x) on Twitter – which is where it seems most of my connections are happening these days. Among other interesting entrepreneurial activities Daniel is playing with a new venture that does analysis of Twitter activity around events.

To show me Daniel created a visual network analysis of the Twitter activity around Future of Crowdsourcing Summit (#foc10) that we ran a few weeks ago in Sydney and San Francisco.


Here is the explanation of the diagram that Daniel gave me:

Read more

Corporate blogging: not easy but a powerful way to connect with customers and stakeholders


The current issue of Australia Post’s Priority magazine has a feature section on ‘Blogging… Friend or Foe’, comprising four brief articles offering different perspectives from a lawyer, an academic, a digital strategist, and myself as ‘business advisor/ futurist’.

Here’s my piece:

Recent data shows Australians spend more time engaging with social media than any other nation. And yet few Australian companies have tapped the power of blogging and social media.

Back in 2002, I started my own business blog – Trends in the Living Networks – and, at the time, it was evident to me that these new platforms for communication could change the way that companies engaged with their customers, business partners and investors.

Read more

Conversation with Tom Stewart: intellectual capital, new reporting, finance and strategy


I first met Tom Stewart in 1998 when I was involved in bringing him to Australia to speak about intellectual capital to the local business and finance community. We became friends and we kept in touch while he moved on from his role at Fortune magazine to become editor-in-chief of Harvard Business Review, and then to become Chief Marketing and Knowledge Officer at Booz & Co.

Tom came to Sydney a few weeks ago to do the keynote at the CPA Congress, and I was asked by the CPA Australia magazine In the Black to speak to Tom for the magazine. Here is the article.

In Conversation: Value Judgement

Tom Stewart discusses the new imperatives in corporate finance with Ross Dawson

Tom Stewart, keynote speaker at CPA Australia’s Congress in October, has a challenge for financial executives. “You are the executive in charge of knowing value,” he says. However, as he rightly points out, only part of an organisation’s value is captured in financial accounting.

The field of ‘intellectual capital’ proclaims that for many companies the most valuable productive assets are intangibles such as knowledge and business processes, and these need to be measured and managed better. The idea is far from new. Indeed, Tom Stewart was there from the outset, when his 1991 ‘Brain Power’ cover story for Fortune magazine first introduced the issue to a broad business audience.

Read more

The issues at the heart of the ‘Murdoch-Jobs’ iPad-only venture


The world is abuzz with discussion of the imminent launch of an iPad-only “newspaper” called The Daily, which according to The Guardian boasts the involvement of Apple and Steve Jobs himself, with New York Times and Womens Wear Daily (not usually known for its media coverage but clearly getting some solid info here) providing further details such as a newsroom staff of around 100, pricing of 99 cents a week, and an “optimistic, populist” editorial stance.

These are the key issues I think need to be considered in this venture.

The supposed special relationship with Apple and Steve Jobs.

A number have described this as a ‘Murdoch-Jobs’ venture. I would be amazed if there is any substantive involvement from Steve Jobs, and surprised if Apple’s support is substantial. Womens Wear Daily reports that Jobs has had several conversations with Murdoch about this. Big deal. Of course it would be a topic of conversation if they have met or spoken recently, and that doesn’t mean there is any contribution from Jobs. It also says that Jobs may appear onstage with Murdoch to launch the app. That’s certainly more than most app developers get, but it that doesn’t mean Jobs is involved in the app itself. He is supporting something that can help sell more iPads.

Read more

The News Limited perspective on tablet media


I’m at the Woodwing Tour event in Sydney, where Alan Oakley, Group Executive Editor of Digital at News Limited is speaking on the topic of Tablets Change the Game. Below are live notes from Alan’s presentation, showing some interesting perspectives on how News Limited thinks about tablets, underlining in particular their belief in this channel, and how it inexorably drives a converged newsroom.

Alan began by providing a lengthy disclaimer on his technical knowledge, but said he is a ‘huge fan’ of the iPad. He went to cover four issues: Customer, Content, Capability, and Chaos.

Customer. The customer has most of the power. And is prepared to share just about anything. They want everything in whatever way they like.

We don’t enough about iPad users, partly through limitations in the analytics. However three things stand out. 

Read more

Further explanation and answers to 6 questions on the Newspaper Extinction Timeline after one million views


Well the Newspaper Extinction Timeline we launched a couple of weeks ago has certainly made an impression. Given the 50,000 views we’ve had on my blog alone, plus the extensive uptake by mainstream media around the world (a partial list at the bottom of this post) it’s a pretty safe estimate that it has been seen over one million times so far. Some of our other visuals such as our Web 2.0 Framework and Future of Media Strategic Framework have had well over 500,000 views, but the Newspaper Extinction Timeline has quickly transcended these.


Click on image to download full framework

The framework has attracted both brickbats and bouquets. However it has been significantly misunderstood, so it’s worth going into some further explanations and clarifications.

Why so specific?

I expect the Newspaper Extinction Timeline to be wrong in the detail. While we think it’s likely to be mainly right I would be amazed if we get much precisely right. That is because the future is inherently unpredictable. We’re not trying to pretend that it isn’t, and that’s why for long-term strategy projects we favor scenario planning as a tool to identify and acknowledge the full scope of uncertainty. However as I noted earlier, precise forecasts can help people to engage with ideas, and hopefully move them to action. The key intentions of the timeline were to bring to life the shift from news-on-paper and the diversity of global media markets.

Read more

Making an Impact in the Digital and Social Media Communications Era: Panel at Ketchum Global Media Network in New York


I was recently on a panel at Ketchum’s Global Media Network meeting in New York with Chrystia Freeland, Global Editor-at-Large at Reuters News and former US editor of Financial Times, and John Mervin, head of the BBC News bureau in New York, moderated by Nicholas Scibetta, Partner and Global Director of the Global Media Network. The topic was Technology and the Global Media Landscape: Making an Impact in the Digital and Social Media Communications Era.

It was a fantastic discussion which covered a lot of territory. Below are quick unedited snippets I managed to capture during the panel, sitting with my iPad and keyboard on my lap on the stage.

The biggest trend is globalization. IBM illustrates this. From 2003 to today its staff in India has risen from 7,000 to 75,000, whereas its US workforce has fallen by 30,000 to 100,000.

Quoting Ken Lerer of Huffington Post: 25 years ago it took 25 years to build a brand, 10 years ago it took 10 years. Today it takes 1 year to build a brand.

Read more

Dan Sheniak from Wieden + Kennedy on the future of the big idea [with 6 cool videos]


I spent the day at the Ninemsn Digital Marketing Summit – possibly the first event I’ve been to this year where I wasn’t a speaker. See my separate posts on Jeffrey Cole’s presentation and notes from other presentations at the Summit.

In the afternoon Dan Sheniak, Global Media Director at Wieden + Kennedy, talked about the future of the big idea in a world of fragmented media, liberally using examples from their recent work, notably for Nike and Old Spice. Here are some notes from his presentation together with some of the videos he showed.

We are living in a communications revolution. Complex, evolving, chasing rather than leading, more questions than answers.

We are all feeling the same things.

Tougher to impact consumers in this fragmented world.

It all starts with having a meaningful relationship between a brand and a consumer. For example, Nike’s relationship with athletes, with their mission making athletes better.

Before we had thre of four ways to tell a story. Today, we have a million ways to do it. If your ideas stinks, then is can stink in a million different ways.

It all starts with a big idea.

Read more